Poker Terminology - An A - Z List of Vital Poker Jargon

Poker players love a bit of jargon, don't we! We like our in-game language to be infused with metaphor, history and, of course, a bit of tongue in cheek comedy. When sat around a poker table we are a close coterie of warring friends. We know that, whoever wins, we are all participating in a shared experience, a shared knowledge and a shared history. One of the ways we express this is through our own idiomatic dictionary, a dictionary which is both expressive and engaging, and which contains the history of the game of poker itself.

We want you to be able to enjoy this vernacular as much as we do. So to that end, we have compiled a (quite) comprehensive list of poker terms for you to take with you to the poker tables and to share with your poker playing friends. Sorted alphabetically for ease of searching.

ADD ON – In a poker tournament, this is an opportunity to buy more poker chips at some point during the blind levels. The level when this is available should be confirmed before the tournament starts

ALL IN – To bet all of your remaining chips on the hand that you hold. 

ANTE – Everyone at the poker table must bet this before the cards are dealt on each hand (optional forced bet). The ante is in addition to the blinds and will often come into effect late on in multi-table poker tournaments.

BABY SHOES – A pair of deuces (2s) hole cards

BAD BEAT – A hand where you lose against expected odds which are heavily in your favour.

BEING UNDER THE GUN – This is the least powerful position on the poker table as you are first to act and therefore have the least information possible.

BET – To make the first movement of poker chips on any given betting round. In comparison to a call or a raise which is where you commit chips to the pot after someone else has already made a bet.

BICYCLE – A nickname for the lowest straight (A2345).

BIG SLICK – A name for Ace / King hole cards.

BLIND, BLINDS – Compulsory bets required before the cards are dealt in any given round: The small Blind is paid by the player directly to the left of the dealer at the poker table, and Big Blind is paid by the player directly to the left of the Small Blind. The big blind is usually twice the small blind.

BLUFF – To represent a hand stronger than the one you actually hold, attempting to steal the pot or obtain chips beyond what your odds give you.

BOARD – The community cards showing on the poker table (in Texas Hold'em these are the up to 5 communal cards that all players use to make their hands).

BOAT – A nickname for a full house (3 of one card and 2 of another in Texas Hold’em.

BULLETS – A pair of ACES as hole cards.

BURN – The dealer will discard the top card from the deck, face down before dealing the flop, then the turn and lastly the river. These cards are not in play.

BUTTON – The dealer button which denotes the position of the dealer.

BUY-IN -  The amount required to sit at the table or enter a tournament, the exchange of cash for poker chips.  

CALL – This means that you match the current largest bet that has been placed by a player acting before you. If you are the last to move in that round, then this ends the round of betting. 

CASH-IN / CASH-OUT – To leave the poker table and exchange your poker chips for cash.

CHASING – Betting on low probability hands where you are currently behind according to the mathematical odds.

CHECK – When you do not wish to bet any money or when you have already matched the current highest bet on the poker table. You will check by saying the word or indicating with a tap of your hand on the poker table top that you are checking

CHECK-RAISE  – To check at first, wait until after an opponent bets into you and then to make a raise. A potential way to induce a bet from an opponent when you have an unusually dominant hand.

COMMUNITY CARDS – These comprise the flop (3 cards), turn (1 card) and river (1 card) cards dealt face up in the middle of the poker table.

CONNECTORS – A Texas hold’em starting hand that has two cards that are connected such as 4-5 or 10-J. See also SUITED CONNECTORS.

COWBOYS – A pair of Kings as hole cards.

DEALER – The player who deals (or for whom a paid/formal dealer deals) the hand. After each hand, this position moves to the next player in a clockwise direction.

DOLLY PARTON – A name for 9 and 5 as hole cards (refers to her song “Working 9 to  5").

DUCKS – Name for a pair of deuces (2s) as hole cards.

EARLY POSITION – Player located close to the left of the dealer at the poker table. The first few players to decide what to do in a pot.

FAMILY POT – A pot where all players at the poker table have called before the Flop.

FIFTH STREET – Also known as the River: The fifth and final community card on the board.

FINAL TABLE – The last poker table of players that remain in a multi-table tournament. 

FISH – An inexperienced poker player who will usually lose. Pros (sharks) search poker tables for these players to make money from them.

FLOP – the first 3 community cards that get dealt face up on the poker table.

FLUSH – 5 cards of the same suit, can be any numbers.

FLUSH DRAW – When you have 4 cards of the same suit, and you will make your flush if the next card you draw is the same suit.

FOLD – Not betting and throwing away your cards – face down, also called mucking your hand.  

FOURTH STREET – Also known as the turn: The 4th community card dealt by the dealer onto the poker table.

FREE CARD – A Turn or River card where you are drawing to the best / winning hand (though you do not currently have a made hand), and no one has made a bet that you have to call.

HEADS UP – Head to head play at the poker table. Usually the final two players of a tournament.

HIGH ROLLER – A poker player who competes for very high stakes.

HOLE CARDS – The first two cards dealt to each player in Texas Hold’em. No other players can see these cards

HOME GAME – Poker played at home - our poker tables and poker table tops are perfect for these types of games! :-)

HOUSE, The – The casino or club in which you are playing. Many casino games are played against “The House” - poker is not one of these - which is one of the tings that makes it so great!

KICKER – A card not used to form the main “poker hand” combination but still within your five final cards. It will come into play when your hand is equal to that of another player. For example, if you have KK5 and your opponent has KK3 then you will win the hand. The 5 and 3 cards are the “kickers”. 

LADIES – A pair of Queens as hole cards.

LATE POSITION – The most powerful positions at the poker table: The players closest to the right of the dealer, and therefore almost last to act in each round of the betting.

LIMP IN – To just call a small bet or blind before the flop. 

LOOSE – A 'loose' player is likely to play too many hands, remain in pots for too long and make speculative plays. While skilled 'loose' players can be very dangerous, players that are both loose and weak are great to have at your poker table because they invariably tend to leak chips!

MID POSITION – Players in the middle area of the poker table between the Big Blind and the Dealer.

MUCK - To fold, or discard you cards.

NO-LIMIT – a game with no maximum limits on the amount which you can bet. No limit Texas Hold’em is the most popular game at the poker tables right now.

NUTS – The best hand available given the community cards currently on the poker table.

OUTS – Card or cards which will complete your hand and improve it, usually to a winning hand, if dealt.

OFFSUIT – Means cards of different suits. Offsuit hole cards, for example, could be a jack and a heart.

OVERCARD(S) / higher card(s) – Cards in your hand that are higher than the highest card on the flop OR cards that come on the flop that are higher than your highest card / pair. These can be a danger to your low pairs.

OVERPAIR – A pocket pair higher than any card communally on the poker table, for example, if you hold KK on a 47J flop.

POCKET ROCKETS – A pair of aces as hole cards.

POSITION – A player’s location at the poker table, measured regarding the order in which action is taken in each round of betting. Late position on the poker table is better than early position because you have more information on how other players are acting.

POT – The collection of poker chips on the table from all previous betting rounds.

RAISE – To bet bigger than the current biggest bet at the poker table.  It is the action you take to raise the level of the betting to a new high.  The minimum amount you can do this by is usually equal to the Big Blind. Other players acting after you must now call or re-raise your bet to stay in the hand.  If no one calls then you win the pot.

RAKE – The amount of money taken out of every pot at the poker table by the casino or poker room as a fee for managing the game.

RE-BUY – In a tournament, if you lose all your chips early on you may be able to buy some more poker chips to get yourself back in. Usually for a limited time only.

RE-RAISE – To re-increase the bet of someone who has already increased the bet amount before you.  A player will usually do this for one of two reasons – either they have a strong hand and want to maximise the pot, or they are bluffing and wanting to chase the other players in the hand away.

RIVER – Also known as “fifth street” it is the fifth and final community card turned.  

ROCK – A very tight player at the poker table who chooses only the best hands to play with and bets only when he is sure that he is best.

RUNNER – Usually called runner-runner.  Describes a (usually) drawing hand which needs to catch cards on the turn and the river to have any strength.

RUSH – Being on a winning streak.

SATELLITE – A qualifying event for a larger poker tournament.

SET – Also known as “trips” - 3 of a kind.

SHORT STACK – When you have well less than the average amount of poker chips in front of you compared to other players at the poker table.

SHORTHANDED – A poker game containing four players or fewer.

SHOWDOWN – The point where betting has finished, and two or more players are still in play. Cards are turned face up on the poker table and the player with the best hand wins.

SIDE POTS – A secondary pot, formed because one player is all in and cannot bet anymore into the pot even though the remaining players are still going. The all-in player can only win the pot up to the point at which he ran out of chips. 

SLOW-PLAY – To bet your hand slowly / weakly to give the impression of weakness to entice bets from others at the poker table.

SLOW-ROLLING – Turning over a winning hand slowly after another player believes that he has won to bait and annoy them.

SPLIT POT – When 2 or more players have the same hand the pot is divided equally between them.

STRADDLE – An optional blind bet, typically made by the player to the left of the Big Blind.  A 'Straddle' is double the amount of the Big Blind and is then the amount that must be called to stay in the hand.

STRAIGHT – 5 cards of mixed suits in number order.

STRING BET – In home games, a player might say “I see your bet” whilst putting out the initial bet, “and I raise you” while reaching back into his chips and putting out more chips.  Strings bets like this are not allowed in a casino.  To avoid a string bet, it is best to say raise before making any motion towards your chips. In a casino, once you have said “I call” you will not be allowed to make your planned raise. 

STUD, 5 CARD POKER – a variation of poker where you are dealt five cards.

SUITED – Same suited cards.

TELL – Body language or clues that other players give off at the poker table which other players may use to help assess the strength of their hand

TILT – To play wild and recklessly because of frustration or anger. Tilt almost always causes players to lose money badly.

TOP PAIR – A pair formed by the highest card on the board and one in your hand. Or the highest possible pair, given the communal cards on the poker table.

TOKE -  A tip given to the Dealer by the winner of a pot.

TRIPS – 3 of a kind

TURN – Also known as “fourth street” - the 4th community card.  

UNDER THE GUN – The position of the player who first acts after a round of betting. The weakest position on the poker table.

WHALE – A gambler or poker player of some wealth for whom significant losses do not matter.

WSOP – The World Series of Poker.


Poker Basics

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